Every attitude, every gesture has to fight poverty and exclusion. There are many ways to act, regardless of our skills and availability. These messages, these testimonials reflect. Feel free to contribute.

Testimonies are published under the responsibility of the author. They are subject to validation: these will be published only if they comply, in form and substance the spirit of this day as defined in the International Charter for October 17.



A world free from poverty: how long are we prepared to wait?

As the world marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, two questions arise: how long are we willing to go on tolerating the violence and injustice of extreme poverty? And what can be done to bring about this elusive goal more swiftly?

Global pledges to eradicate poverty go back decades. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed the advent of a world in which all human beings would enjoy 'freedom from want'. Since then, numerous world conferences on human rights and development have set and re-set aspirational goals for the achievement of this vision. The Millennium Development Goals adopted at the turn of the century represent the most recent and arguably the most serious statement of commitment by the international community. The MDGs aim to halve the number of those living in extreme poverty by 2015, and set targets for combatting other poverty-related deprivations such as maternal mortality and child malnutrition.

Even if, as is likely, the poverty target is technically met, there is little grounds for complacency. More than a billion people will still be living on less than $1.25 a day, the vast majority in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Much of the progress over the last 25 years is due to patterns of economic growth in two countries, China and India, that predate the MDG commitments. The global food, fuel and financial crises have fuelled poverty over the last decade, laying bare the structural inequities underlying our global economic system. Social and income inequalities, both within and between countries, have in many cases widened. A day of action to eradicate poverty is a meager response to the enormity of the challenge. On current rates of progress, even the 800 days between now and 2015 will not suffice to meet the eight less-than-ambitious Millennium Goals.

CESR, like many others engaged in the process to develop a successor framework to the MDGs beyond 2015, is pushing for a paradigm shift by the time this deadline is reached. Poverty must be understood as a deprivation of human rights, power and voice. Its eradication, as a matter of obligation falling on all states - whether developing, industrialized or emerging - and powerful actors beyond and below the state. The new framework must enable those living in poverty to hold decision-makers accountable to their obligations, including the duty to realize economic and social rights as swiftly as possible using the maximum resources that are available.  

The recently adopted Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, are a timely boost to these frame-shifting efforts. Adopted last month by the UN Human Rights Council, they provide detailed guidance on how to apply human rights standards in efforts to combat poverty. If revitalized in light of these principles, the Millennium vision of a world without poverty may stand a chance of being fulfilled within our lifetime. Wouldn’t this be something to celebrate at the UDHR’s 100th anniversary in 2048?


Ignacio Saiz Executive Director

Ignacio Saiz

Message from the International Committee for October 17

Ending the violence of Extreme Poverty: Promoting empowerment and building peace

The International Committee for October 17 welcomes the theme for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2012 which highlights the urgency of ending the violence of extreme poverty as a means to promote peace in all our societies.

Extreme poverty endangers the lives and spirit of people -- more children, young persons and adults have lost their lives from extreme poverty and hunger than from any armed conflict humankind has ever known.

Every single day of their lives, people living in extreme poverty are challenged and threatened by lack of food, shelter and access to essential services. Often, they live in precarious, degraded, and insecure living environments. And when they can find employment, they have to toil long hours in jobs that pay low wages with little or no job security, often under hazardous working conditions.

Such daily suffering, indignities, deprivations and social exclusion unrelentingly provoke, promote and perpetuate violence towards people living in extreme poverty. This untenable situation is an outrageous violation of Human Rights.

Yet, all too often these silent victims are unfairly depicted as the perpetrators of violence and therefore represent a threat to social stability and order.

In the face of such endemic and pervasive discrimination and violence against people living in extreme poverty, how can we build a just, equitable and peaceful society? Where do we start?

It begins with the recognition that extreme poverty is indeed violence.

Such recognition empowers people in living in poverty and their communities. It informs and creates awareness in society at large of the relentless violence of extreme poverty and empowers them as well to stand in solidarity with poor people in their daily struggle against deprivations, discrimination, social injustice, and loss of dignity.

Such empowerment creates the foundation upon which we can build a path to peace and social harmony.

Lasting Peace can only emerge when societies guarantee, protect and respect the dignity and fundamental human rights of all their citizens. It thrives and blossoms when societies learn to listen to the voices of everyone. Only by collaborating with people living in extreme poverty, can we learn from their courage, vision, experience and knowledge about how to achieve a peaceful world for all.

First celebrated 25 years ago, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty actively promotes dialogue and understanding between poor people, their communities, and society at large.

It creates a valuable public space and forum that acknowledges the ongoing efforts and struggles of people living in poverty. It allows them the opportunity to speak up and be heard and to make their thoughts and concerns known. It is the recognition that poor people are, and have always been, at the forefront of the fight against extreme poverty.

Ultimately, the social transformation that is needed to achieve a peaceful society can only be achieved through the equal and active contribution of everyone.

Today, the International Committee for October 17 stands in solidarity with people living in poverty and renews its solemn commitment to the eradication of poverty and the creation of a just, equitable and peaceful world.

Donald Lee ,

President from the International Committee for October 17

Comité international 17 octobre

October 17th on the North Wall

The next time you’re walking down the quays, as you ramble down by the Famine Memorial, keep your eyes on the ground and you will come to a large circular stone laid in the footpath.

The stone has carved in it a message in Irish, English and French. The message says that ‘wherever poverty exists people are being denied their basic human rights’. The message is a reminder that the existence of poverty in a world of abundance is unacceptable, and that campaigning against such poverty is the solemn responsibility of us all.

The idea was developed by a French priest, Fr.Joseph Wresinski, who was outraged by the poverty he saw all around him, and determined to promote solidarity with the poor through campaigning for the United Nations to declare a special day every year when people could express that solidarity.

The U.N nominated the 17th of October as U.N Day for The Eradication of Poverty and it is celebrated every year in a ceremony organised by a committed group of volunteers grouped around the Irish branch of ATD 4th World, the organisation founded by Joseph Wresinski to work with the poorest and most marginalised people in society.

These gatherings take place in cities all around the world and provide an opportunity for the poor to do their own talking, rather than have someone else doing it for them.

Testaments are given by individuals and groups who find it very difficult in normal circumstances to have their voices heard. The ceremonies are open to anyone and attract a diverse collection of community projects and activists, politicians, clergy of all denominations and private citizens committed to the idea of social solidarity, and most importantly those experiencing poverty and disadvantage.

In recent years the ceremony has been honoured by the presence of the Lord Mayor, the elected representative of the people of Dublin, which gives a formal recognition by the city of the campaign against poverty in all its forms.

Of course, the word poverty can mean different things to different people and in different circumstances. In some countries people don’t have enough to eat, don’t have clean water, don’t have shelter. These are the extremes of absolute poverty which have not been experienced in Ireland for many years: the kind of circumstances that we see on TV from Africa or Asia or other parts of the ‘underdeveloped’ world; places where life for the vast majority of people is short and miserable; countries where Irish Development Aid is sent in a desperate attempt to stave off total disaster; countries where we look at our screens and say ‘thank God I don’t live there’, maybe put a few bob in the collection box and move on, forgetting about it till the next time the sight of a starving baby moves us to pity.

And moved we certainly are. The Irish people donate huge amounts of money in special appeals after famines and other such disaster’s, and have a long history of ‘charitable giving’ to tackle poverty, a record we are entitled to be proud of.

There are, however, other forms of poverty, which exist and are quite prevalent in some of the richest countries in the world. This is what we generally call ‘relative poverty’, that is, when a person’s standard of living, or quality of life, is far below that enjoyed by their fellow citizens.

This is the kind of poverty to which many people in Ireland are condemned; the poverty which is created by the unfair distribution of the country’s wealth.

This ‘relative poverty‘ is growing as the recession gets deeper, and the gap between the rich and the poor gets wider. It is a poverty of opportunity, a poverty of education, a poverty of health, a poverty of security, a poverty of family life, of gender, of status, of equality, and of class - an insidious undermining of all the principles on which this country was based and for which our heroes died.

This is the poverty that brings thousands of our people to despair, and while it can exist almost anywhere in the country, it is generally concentrated in specific areas of cumulative disadvantage. Communities where individual poverty and family poverty lead to ‘community poverty’ are all about us.

Poverty, just like wealth, is handed on from one generation to another and, without help and concentrated effort, is a trap from which it is very difficult to escape. That this should exist in Ireland in the 21st century is a disgrace and a cause for the greatest of shame on all the rich and powerful who have maintained their fabulous wealth at the expense of their unfortunate fellow citizens. It should bring particular shame to the political parties who, in election after election, make promises to address poverty but have never really done anything to seriously address it.

The evidence for that failure can be heard on the 17th of October every year on the Quays, by the stone, where those who do want to do something about it gather.

The next time you’re rambling down the Quay, have a look for the stone, give it a bit of thought and, next year, join us.

Seanie has been involved in the development of the inner city over many years, is director of the Inner City Renewal Group, chairperson of ICON and a member of the 17th October Committee in Ireland.


17th October Commemoration of the UN day for the Eradication of Poverty

I was at 17th October Commemoration of the UN day for the Eradication of Poverty. I am glad that I attended, which was a very important day for all those concerned with the prevalent poverty that Irish society is facing. It is not only the poverty that really concerns me, but it is also about being excluded in society. Exclusion has led to marginalisation and poverty. It has created the deep-root culture of prejudice and stereotype on the marginalised groups and people.

From my perspective, it is important to the Deaf community and people with disabilities because they are seriously marginalised in society because of who they are. They are frequently judged on their mentality and physically. These caused the exclusion to their access and participation to education and employment. Over 65% of people with disabilities are unemployed and lived on social welfare, including disability allowance. They had to depend on charity supports, which are degrading to their right to live independently. A simple change of attitude of society towards Deaf people and people with disabilities would make a significant difference to the extent where they would be seen as persons with abilities and potentiality instead of disability. It would open their access and participation to education and employment.

A simple common sense by society would help to eradicate poverty among Deaf and disabled people. Researches have shown that the lack of education and employment opportunities as well as access to health service has contributed poverty among these groups.

Kevin Stanley


Inclusive Enterprises


Kevin Stanley


    U N I T E D   N A T I O N S   N A T I O N S   U N I E S  17 October 2011

For decades the United Nations has worked to free people from poverty.   We have made great progress — but today those gains are in doubt.     Too many people are living in fear:   Fear of losing their jobs;    Fear of not being able to feed their families;    Fear of being trapped forever in poverty, deprived of the human right to live with health and dignity and hope for the future.   We can meet the challenges we face — the economic crisis, climate change, rising costs of food and energy, the effects of natural disasters.   We can overcome them by putting people at the centre of our work.    Too often in the debates that will shape our future, I see three groups missing.  The poor … the young … and the planet.

As we work to avoid a global financial meltdown, we must also work to avoid a global development meltdown.   In the name of fiscal austerity, we cannot cut back on common-sense investments in people.      Malaria can be stopped.  AIDS can be reversed.  Millions of mothers can be saved from dying in child birth.  Green investments can generate jobs and growth.    This is not theory.  It is happening.  Now is not the time to slide backwards.  Now is the time to push harder to meet the Millennium Development Goals.  Now is the time to prepare to make the most of next year’s crucial Rio + 20 conference on sustainable development.  Together, let us listen to people – and stand up for their hopes and aspirations.

That is how we will build a world free of poverty.  

Mr Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General -- United Nations